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Concept: September 11 attacks


We compared the impact of media vs. direct exposure on acute stress response to collective trauma. We conducted an Internet-based survey following the Boston Marathon bombings between April 29 and May 13, 2013, with representative samples of residents from Boston (n = 846), New York City (n = 941), and the remainder of the United States (n = 2,888). Acute stress symptom scores were comparable in Boston and New York [regression coefficient (b) = 0.43; SE = 1.42; 95% confidence interval (CI), -2.36, 3.23], but lower nationwide when compared with Boston (b = -2.21; SE = 1.07; 95% CI, -4.31, -0.12). Adjusting for prebombing mental health (collected prospectively), demographics, and prior collective stress exposure, six or more daily hours of bombing-related media exposure in the week after the bombings was associated with higher acute stress than direct exposure to the bombings (continuous acute stress symptom total: media exposure b = 15.61 vs. direct exposure b = 5.69). Controlling for prospectively collected prebombing television-watching habits did not change the findings. In adjusted models, direct exposure to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Sandy Hook School shootings were both significantly associated with bombing-related acute stress; Superstorm Sandy exposure wasn’t. Prior exposure to similar and/or violent events may render some individuals vulnerable to the negative effects of collective traumas. Repeatedly engaging with trauma-related media content for several hours daily shortly after collective trauma may prolong acute stress experiences and promote substantial stress-related symptomatology. Mass media may become a conduit that spreads negative consequences of community trauma beyond directly affected communities.

Concepts: United States, New York City, Massachusetts, New England, Marathon, Remainder, September 11 attacks, Acute stress reaction


Recent research into the psychology of conspiracy belief has highlighted the importance of belief systems in the acceptance or rejection of conspiracy theories. We examined a large sample of conspiracist (pro-conspiracy-theory) and conventionalist (anti-conspiracy-theory) comments on news websites in order to investigate the relative importance of promoting alternative explanations vs. rejecting conventional explanations for events. In accordance with our hypotheses, we found that conspiracist commenters were more likely to argue against the opposing interpretation and less likely to argue in favor of their own interpretation, while the opposite was true of conventionalist commenters. However, conspiracist comments were more likely to explicitly put forward an account than conventionalist comments were. In addition, conspiracists were more likely to express mistrust and made more positive and fewer negative references to other conspiracy theories. The data also indicate that conspiracists were largely unwilling to apply the “conspiracy theory” label to their own beliefs and objected when others did so, lending support to the long-held suggestion that conspiracy belief carries a social stigma. Finally, conventionalist arguments tended to have a more hostile tone. These tendencies in persuasive communication can be understood as a reflection of an underlying conspiracist worldview in which the details of individual conspiracy theories are less important than a generalized rejection of official explanations.

Concepts: Truth, Sociology, September 11 attacks, Conspiracy theory, The X-Files, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Conspiracy theories, Conspiracy?


After the World Trade Center attacks on 11 September 2001 (9/11), multiple cohorts were developed to monitor the health outcomes of exposure. Respiratory and cancer effects have been covered at length. This current study sought to review the literature on other physical conditions associated with 9/11-exposure. Researchers searched seven databases for literature published in English from 2002 to October 2017, coded, and included articles for health condition outcome, population, 9/11-exposures, and comorbidity. Of the 322 titles and abstracts screened, 30 studies met inclusion criteria, and of these, 28 were from three cohorts: the World Trade Center Health Registry, Fire Department of New York, and World Trade Center Health Consortium. Most studies focused on rescue and recovery workers. While many of the findings were consistent across different populations and supported by objective measures, some of the less studied conditions need additional research to substantiate current findings. In the 16 years after 9/11, longitudinal cohorts have been essential in investigating the health consequences of 9/11-exposure. Longitudinal studies will be vital in furthering our understanding of these emerging conditions, as well as treatment effectiveness.

Concepts: September 11 attacks, September 11, World Trade Center, Lower Manhattan, Al-Qaeda, 7 World Trade Center, World Trade Center site, National September 11 Memorial & Museum


The World Trade Center attack of September 11, 2001 in New York City (9/11) exposed thousands of people to intense concentrations of hazardous materials that have resulted in reports of increased levels of asthma, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases along with psychological illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Few studies have discriminated between health consequences of immediate (short-term or acute) intense exposures versus chronic residential or workplace exposures.

Concepts: Medicine, Asthma, Medical terms, Chronic, New York City, September 11 attacks, World Trade Center, Lower Manhattan


BACKGROUND: Longitudinal symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are often characterized by heterogeneous trajectories, which may have unique pre-, peri- and post-trauma risk and protective factors. To date, however, no study has evaluated the nature and determinants of predominant trajectories of PTSD symptoms in World Trade Center (WTC) responders. Method A total of 10835 WTC responders, including 4035 professional police responders and 6800 non-traditional responders (e.g. construction workers) who participated in the WTC Health Program (WTC-HP), were evaluated an average of 3, 6 and 8 years after the WTC attacks. RESULTS: Among police responders, longitudinal PTSD symptoms were best characterized by four classes, with the majority (77.8%) in a resistant/resilient trajectory and the remainder exhibiting chronic (5.3%), recovering (8.4%) or delayed-onset (8.5%) symptom trajectories. Among non-traditional responders, a six-class solution was optimal, with fewer responders in a resistant/resilient trajectory (58.0%) and the remainder exhibiting recovering (12.3%), severe chronic (9.5%), subsyndromal increasing (7.3%), delayed-onset (6.7%) and moderate chronic (6.2%) trajectories. Prior psychiatric history, Hispanic ethnicity, severity of WTC exposure and WTC-related medical conditions were most strongly associated with symptomatic trajectories of PTSD symptoms in both groups of responders, whereas greater education and family and work support while working at the WTC site were protective against several of these trajectories. CONCLUSIONS: Trajectories of PTSD symptoms in WTC responders are heterogeneous and associated uniquely with pre-, peri- and post-trauma risk and protective factors. Police responders were more likely than non-traditional responders to exhibit a resistant/resilient trajectory. These results underscore the importance of prevention, screening and treatment efforts that target high-risk disaster responders, particularly those with prior psychiatric history, high levels of trauma exposure and work-related medical morbidities.

Concepts: Psychological trauma, PTSD, September 11 attacks, World Trade Center, United 93, 7 World Trade Center, World Trade Center site, National September 11 Memorial & Museum


BACKGROUND: World Trade Center rescue and recovery workers were exposed to a complex mix of pollutants and carcinogens. The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate cancer incidence in responders during the first seven years after September 11, 2001. METHODS: Cancers among 20,984 consented participants in the WTC Health Program were identified through linkage to state tumor registries in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) were calculated to compare cancers diagnosed in responders to predicted numbers for the general population. Multivariate regression models were used to estimate associations with degree of exposure. RESULTS: A total of 575 cancers were diagnosed in 552 individuals. Increases over registry-based expectations were noted for all cancer sites combined (SIR 1.15; 95% CI: 1.06, 1.25), thyroid cancer (SIR 2.39; 95% CI: 1.70, 3.27), prostate cancer (SIR 1.21; 95% CI: 1.01, 1.44), combined hematopoietic and lymphoid cancers (SIR 1.36; 95% CI: 1.07, 1.71) and soft tissue cancers (SIR 2.26; 95% CI: 1.13, 4.05). When restricted to 302 cancers diagnosed six or more months after enrollment, the SIR for all cancers decreased to 1.06 (95% CI: 0.94, 1.18), but thyroid and prostate cancer diagnoses remained greater than expected. All cancers combined were increased in very highly exposed responders and among those exposed to significant amounts of dust compared with responders who reported lower levels of exposure. CONCLUSION: Estimates should be interpreted with caution given the short follow-up and long latency period for most cancers, the intensive medical surveillance of this cohort, and the small numbers of cancers at specific sites. However, our findings highlight the need for continued follow up and surveillance of WTC responders.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Cancer, Metastasis, Oncology, Prostate cancer, Radiation therapy, September 11 attacks, World Trade Center


Multiple chronic health conditions have been associated with exposure to the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center (WTC) terrorist attacks (9/11). We assessed whether excess deaths occurred during 2003-2014 among persons directly exposed to 9/11, and examined associations of 9/11-related exposures with mortality risk.

Concepts: 2001, September 11 attacks, September 11, World Trade Center, Lower Manhattan, United 93, 7 World Trade Center, World Trade Center site


Large amounts of various chemical contaminants, including perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), were released at the time of the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster. Thousands of children who lived and/or attended school near the disaster site were exposed to these substances but few studies have examined the possible consequences related to these exposures.

Concepts: September 11 attacks, World Trade Center, United 93


The objective of this research is to determine whether responders and survivors of the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster experience symptoms of neuropathy at a rate higher than those not exposed.

Concepts: September 11 attacks, World Trade Center, United 93


BackgroundLittle is known about asthma control in adolescents who were exposed to the World Trade Center (WTC) attacks of 9/11/2001 and diagnosed with asthma after 9/11. This report examines asthma and asthma control 10-11 years after 9/11 among exposed adolescents.MethodsThe WTC Health Registry adolescent Wave 3 survey (2011-2012) collected data on asthma diagnosed by a physician after 9/11/2001, extent of asthma control based on modified National Asthma Education and Prevention Program criteria, probable mental health conditions, and behavior problems. Parents reported healthcare needs and 9/11-exposures. Logistic regression was used to evaluate associations between asthma and level of asthma control and 9/11-exposure, mental health and behavioral problems, and unmet healthcare needs.ResultsPoorly/very poorly controlled asthma was significantly associated with a household income of ≤$75,000 (AOR: 3.0; 95% CI: 1.1-8.8), having unmet healthcare needs (AOR: 6.2; 95% CI: 1.4-27.1), and screening positive for at least one mental health condition (AOR: 5.0; 95% CI: 1.4-17.7), but not with behavioral problems. The impact of having at least one mental health condition on the level of asthma control was substantially greater in females than in males.ConclusionsComprehensive care of post-9/11 asthma in adolescents should include management of mental health-related comorbidities.

Concepts: September 11 attacks, World Trade Center, Lower Manhattan, United 93, Al-Qaeda, 7 World Trade Center, World Trade Center site, National September 11 Memorial & Museum